U.S. Needs to Reassess Energy Plan

Article excerpt

Few states have a bigger stake in the potential transition from imported diesel to domestic natural gas than Indiana. Given the amount of over-theroad truck traffic that passes through the state, a reduction in pollution and costs for truckers will be a significant economic and social benefit for all Hoosiers. Hydraulic fracturing, in what is known as the New Albany Shale Gas Play, is creating real, permanent jobs.

Everyone talks about a free market in energy. It's as if we are wearing blinders on both the state and federal level. We keep listening to free market zealots to guide our energy policies when, in fact, there is no free market in energy. All we need do is look at OPEC.

The cost of OPEC oil is astronomical in its impact on national security, the state and national economy and the environment.

OPEC is a cartel that controls the global price of oil by manipulating the amount available.

Since October, Saudi Arabia has sharply cut production to keep prices up. In essence, the $4 per gallon you are paying for gasoline at the corner station is helping fund the Saudis' domestic programs.

The OPEC nations are just the largest part of the equation. Seventy percent of the world's oil supply is controlled by state- owned entities. Here in the United States constantly changing laws, rules, tax policy and regulations - new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards are the latest example - are just as manipulative.

If we want to break the back of the OPEC cartel, there are two free market focused approaches that make sense.

First, we need to inject serious fuel competition into the transportation fuel mix. Transportation in America accounts for two- thirds of all oil use. There are many options, but to me, the one that makes the most sense is natural gas as a fuel substitute for OPEC oil/diesel/gasoline, with a focus on the heavy duty and fleet markets.

We are now a nation awash in natural gas, so much so there's a push to allow the export of America's natural gas to Asia, Europe and elsewhere where it sells for up to four times as much.

While I fully support the producers' right to sell into higher price markets, I think it shortchanges America's energy future. Why rebuild another country's economy on the back of our cheap energy? Wouldn't we be better served by rebuilding our own with our own natural gas?

Secondly, there is a lot of talk about renewables - wind and solar in particular - but those are power generation fuels. While some can argue that power from wind and solar ends up in the power grid - and, ultimately, in electric vehicles - a battery won't move an 18-wheeler.

But there's another free market-focused approach that works, and that's to get government out of the way.

We should conduct an audit of the antiquated state and federal tax policies that impede the alternative fuel market growth. …